Tartan Day, much like Paddy’s Day in the States, isn’t about Scotland. It is a saccharine projection of dim-witted American expectations of Scotland and half remembered traditions of the old country. More, than this: It is about whipping up sales in the international centre of the religion of capitalism. Tartan – or “plaid” as our Merican cousins prefer to call it – is about money; it’s about playing on the emotions of American’s who have been convinced their great granny came over from Brigadoon or, more likely, Balamory. Tartan Day is about giving them what they want.
There is no avoiding the association of tartan and the bagpipes with battlefields spanning the whole width of the world. Scots regiments marched on and subdued Egypt, Afghanistan, and India. Scottish graves litter the fields of Flanders and the Somme. Scotland has made its mark on the world and left behind it a horrendous trail of misery, suffering, and blood.
Yes, we too are a risen people. This was not the final end of us. Our story does not end here. We are only at the beginning of our story.
A huv bin spennin’ some time hinkin’ ae whit it means to bei a Scot an’ tawk oor ain leid in oor ain plot ae urth. We kin blame ithers fur the pair state ae Scotland, an’ much ae that micht bei true. Bit we hae a pairt tae play in aw this annaw.
In all likelihood the Ho’din’ O’ Hogmanay predates the celebration of Christmas in Scotland. Believe it or not, Christmas is quite a new holiday in Scotland. It was only made a public holiday in 1958 and many places of work in the industrial south were still operational on the day well into the late 60s.
Well it’s that time again. It’s the day before the day before Christmas Eve and every diaspora is on the move, like Mary and Joseph of old, back to the homeland. I’ll spend the day packing and doing a bit of hectic last minute shopping and gift deliveries (and pet deliveries) before setting off across the sea to Scotland.
Actually, when we take the time to read what they’ve been reading to us in church for two millennia we find that the script doesn’t match the performance; Christianity is meant to be a wee bit mental.
Long Scots tradition had it, even in the midst of austere Calvinism, that oan the nicht o’ Samhain the de’il an’ aw his dubh yins wad be aboon. It was a night of bogles, carlins, and the odd lurking kelpie. Auld yarns and songs, in a time when even the adults swore by their encounters with the banshee, made sure the bairns were terrified.